Why the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre is Set to Become India's Cultural Landmark
Iconic spaces spotlighting the arts are few and far between. Creating an environment that’s grand in nature and keeping cultural nuances in mind is no mean feat. The Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural
Centre (NMACC) has been conceived with the vision of elevating diverse art forms in India. Named after its Founder & Chairperson Nita Mukesh Ambani—renowned philanthropist, businesswoman, educationalist, and art patron—the Cultural Centre rests on her vision of democratising the arts while bridging the cultural gap between India and the world.
The infrastructure is equally impressive. Technologically- advanced, purpose-built spaces have been meticulously designed to host both large-scale productions and intimate events. Visitors can expect to experience a lineup of expert-curated exhibitions, shows, and productions, spanning performing, visual and costume arts, both local and international. “I hope our spaces nurture and inspire talent," says Nita Mukesh Ambani, "bringing together communities from across India and the globe." The Centre, housed within the Jio World Centre in Mumbai, is scheduled to open its doors to the public in Mumbai this April. We take a closer look at what makes NMACC India's first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary venue.
The Grand Theatre The spectacular 2,000-seat space brings the best works from the world of theatre to Indian audiences. Designed by Steve Clem and Nick Wolfcale of TVS Design, in collaboration with Brian Hall of Theatre Projects Consultants, it is equipped to host diverse world-renowned productions including shows, musicals, and plays. To ensure visitors enjoy an experience that is truly immersive, the expansive space incorporates not only state-of-the-art stage technology but also a Dolby Atmos Surround Sound System and Virtual Acoustic System along with an ingenious flexible seating arrangement and special programmable lighting. Additionally, The Grand Theatre includes three levels, guaranteeing an unparalleled viewing experience for each guest. An extra layer of exclusivity is added by the 18 Diamond boxes that have dedicated food and beverage
In India's erstwhile opera houses, the architecture was an equal player in the theatrical spectacle. Reminding the audience of that flourish and grandeur, the space features some intricate design details that can't go unnoticed. Building on the centre’s theme as an ode to India and its symbols, a silhouette of the lotus flower is seen dotting the auditorium from floor to ceiling. It is discreetly referenced in the jaali-work on the walls that surround the private seating boxes and finds its way to the plush carpeting. But most prominently, the lotus motif seamlessly integrates itself in the design aesthetic of the majestic chandelier on the ceiling. Designed in collaboration with Mark Smith of Swarovski, the chandelier has been fitted with 8,400 crystals and LED lights that can be programmed to create wonderful ambient experiences. Keeping modern media consumption in mind, The Grand Theatre is also equipped with integrated recording and projection facilities, along with translation booths.
The Studio Theatre Adjacent to The Grand Theatre, The Studio Theatre is a 250-seat space designed for intimate performances. Both its ground and mezzanine levels are masterfully made, ensuring each guest receives a riveting experience regardless of where they are seated. The telescoping seating system allow for quick transformations to accommodate the diverse needs of shows. This flexibility makes the space ideal for intimate experimental performances and cutting-edge productions.
Their ability to flex between multiple setups is what makes them unique. They may look very simple but everything within them is made for flexibility. Portable platforms and flexible grids allow for a range of theatrical set ups. Most notably, the ceiling of The Studio Theatre has been fitted with a tension wire grid that makes it possible for technicians to rig and change lights even while the floor is being set up for production or used for rehearsal. This tension wire grid is the only one of its kind in India.
Very close to The Grand and The Studio theatres, visitors will find The Cube, a platform for emerging Indian artists from the fields of new and experimental theatre, spoken word, stand-up comedy, music, and more. A variation of the traditional black box— which is a simple, typically square or small rectangular room with black walls and a flat floor—the 125-seater suits a range of performances. Draped in wood-toned acoustic paneling that offers a neutral backdrop, the venue provides a clean canvas that adapts to the needs of an event. Owing to its size and concept, it's ideal for conversational and dialogue-oriented events including workshops, screenings, as well as book readings.
For audiences looking to discover innovative and new-age art forms, The Cube's movable stage and seating allows for unconventional setups, encouraging idiosyncratic thinking. Other winning features include a Panasonic Laser projection system, integrated and flexible audio, and an Assisted Listening system with infrared emitters that support the hearing impaired and makes each performance mesmerising.
Overlooking the iconic Fountain of Joy through its glass facade, the Art House is a multi-story gallery space for visual arts that will house the best of Indian and global artworks. In addition to this, it is also equipped to host educational events, tech programmes, and workshops. With community building and collaboration at its heart, the space encourages new talent and enables the Indian audience to see the world through a wider cultural lens. The adjoining Arts Cafe champions the same school of thought by providing a creative ambience for people with diverse interests. The 16,000 sq. ft. space is set to serve as one of the finest art addresses in Mumbai, making celebrated artworks from across the world accessible to all.
The areas for performing, visual, and costume arts within the Centre acknowledge a culturally-layered society and spotlight the best from the art world — but they do so in a way that is far from ordinary. Using a fully-bloomed lotus as a signature element, the design details at NMACC amplify the experience for visitors. One can find this intricate motif adorning many parts — from the crystal-studded ceiling of The Grand Theatre to the magnificent gold facade of the Art House. Moreover, it ornaments the main entrance to the Cultural Centre, resembling an exquisite cuff bracelet. Serving as a backdrop to the musical fountain, the lotus petal lights up at night.
Ready, Set, Go
The launch of the venue will be marked by three monumental events spread over three days. A show by Feroz Abbas Khan, filmmaker and India's leading theatre director, will inaugurate The Grand Theatre. A contemporary visual arts exhibition curated by Ranjit Hoskote, India's celebrated cultural theorist, and Jeffrey Deitch, renowned American art curator, will unveil the Art House. Additionally, a costume arts exhibition curated by Hamish Bowles, an authority on fashion and costume, will explore how India has served as a source of inspiration for global designers across the world from the 18th century to this day.
1) The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation Featuring 300 artists and a 75-piece live orchestra, Feroz Abbas Khan's marquee production will bring together exceptional Indian and global talent. A journey through thousands of years, 'Civilization to Nation' is set to capture the cultural history of India with a grand showcase of music, dance, and drama.
2) India in Fashion: The Impact of Indian Dress & Textile on the Fashionable Imagination Whether it's transparent muslins, whimsical chintzes, the varied draperies of the sari and dhoti, or the botehs of Kashmir’s shawls, India's rich textile traditions have influenced European haute couture, contemporary design visionaries, and even global fast fashion. Hamish Bowles's 'India in Fashion' will explore how the country for several decades now has influenced the creations of the most celebrated designers including the likes of Christian Dior, Gabrielle Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Dries Van Noten.
3) Sangam/Confluence The idea of unions that is deeply embedded in Indian culture and civilization is what inspires 'Sangam/Confluence,' the Art House's debut exhibition. The group show curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Ranjit Hoskote brings together the works of ten Indian and international artists. While the five Indian artists in the exhibition present various aspects of the country’s kaleidoscopic art scene such as the poetics of sculpture or the speculative uses of drawing, the five international artists were chosen for their connection to India and the impact that the country has had on their work.
Public Art: For the People, by the People From works by Yayoi Kusama and Jitish Kallat to those by one of India’s best-known Pichwai artists, the public art on view at the NMACC will spotlight a host of acclaimed creators. It will celebrate the power of public art and make the experience more accessible for diverse segments of the Indian community. Some of the artworks to watch for are 'Clouds', a 90-piece stainless steel structure by Yayoi Kusama; 'Kamal Kunj', the largest-ever commissioned Pichwai painting at 56-feet; 'Seekers Paradise', a larger-than-life installation promoting a sense of community by N.S. Harsha; 'Earth's Whisper', an artwork depicting our cosmos as the layered wonder that it is by Jagannath Panda; and more.
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